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Iron Maiden - The Book Of Souls CD (album) cover

THE BOOK OF SOULS

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

3.90 | 211 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars My favorite metal band is back with their biggest and perhaps most ambitious album yet. Like almost everything the band has produced, it is quite good, and has the band's signature sound is always a treat. That being said, Book of Souls takes some interesting chances here and there, giving it moments to stand out as unique among the band's lengthy discography. As a group that is, let's face it, getting pretty old, I think this is a great choice. They've got nothing to lose, and their recent releases (since Brave New World) have all been great. While Book of Souls is receiving some prog street-cred, my enthusiasm for it is not as strong as previous albums. This time around the band actually starts to show their age, creating songs that miss that spark of energy that makes Maiden music so exciting. For fans of the band, this hardly matters, because even mediocre Maiden (which this is not), is still a blast; however, Book of Souls is definitely not the crown-jewel in the iconic group's regalia of metal masterworks.

First off, this is a two-disc album. High-five. That's awesome, even if just for bragging rights. The songs are dense, highly melodic, and actually pretty varied. There are some down-tempo tracks and moments within extended works that standout as being different than the group's comfort zone. Personally, I think that songs on Final Frontier were more ambitious and effective, but the writing here is, in general quite good. Ironically, it's the band's performance itself that doesn't do it for me. Soloing feels routine, and there are few "wow" moments that grab the attention. Still, the band's rousing melodic moments are thick, heavy, and frequent; they're appealing even if not as electric as I'd hope.

Dickinson especially seems to miss as often as he hits, and it pains me to say it... he's sounding tired. This may have to do with his health issues during the time leading up to this album. Don't take me wrong, he's not bad or enjoyable, but there's a noticeable loss of power during his "fortissimo" moments. This, combined with the unchallenging and forgettable lyrics, is a strike against Book of Souls for me. Where the instrumentalists show restraint and maturity throughout, Bruce just seems to be unable to stop singing at times, going on and on with dense lyrics.

The first disc stands out as a solid collection of songs; they're energetic, exciting, and dramatic. The second disc, including the band's longest song ever, "Empire of the Skies," is much less interesting for me. It's sort of plodding, and lacks the musical ideas to sustain its long running time. Disappointing given the band's streak of success and novelty of the extended release format within their discography.

All in all a worthy release, especially for Maiden fans, though I find myself more excited about their previous 4 albums. Given their age, and musical landscape of the times, it's great to see Iron Maiden still successful and still growing.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |

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